Innovators across India have responded positively and quickly to the challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic. With a clear focus on affordability and low-cost vaccines, here is how Indian doctors and entrepreneurs have helped us fight the Corona pandemic
Made in India: 150,000 doses of Covishield vaccines, dispatched
from India, reached Bhutan on January 20, 2021
Necessity is the mother of invention. This proverb has been put to efficacious use by Indians.
There are two types of people everywhere —one who are always critical of everything around them. Even during a disaster or emergency, they express their displeasure. And the others who take every challenge head on and come up with ingenious solutions.
When a section of journalists, politicians and academics were castigating the Central Government for not having a comprehensive healthcare system in place to fight COVID-19, there were individuals and groups quietly working to help their countrymen. They did not blow their trumpet. These people used their creativity and compassion to help citizens to survive and thrive. Inventing a cure for COVID-19 has been engaging the world’s mind ever since the deadly virus originated in the People’s Republic of China.
Rather than lamenting over the non-availability or the cost factor of facial masks or hand sanitisers, men and women of Bharat have been coming up with home-made masks (Gamcha) and sanitisers from local resources. Neem leaves, turmeric and wide variety of spices that take a pride of place in standard Indian kitchen shelves have been put to good use to prepare sanitisers, concoctions and food preparations fit enough to boost immunity of the countrymen.
Woman behind the Breakthrough
India reached a crucial benchmark in its fight against COVID-19 virus after a Pune-based diagnostic firm came up with the country’s first testing kit. All this was made possible because of single-minded efforts of a virologist, who came up with a working test kit, hours before delivering her baby. The woman behind it is Mylab’s research and development chief, Minal Dakhave Bhosale and the Coronavirus testing kit is called Patho Detect.
Meanwhile, DRDO chipped in by designing a full-body disinfection chamber at treatment centres and a bodysuit to stop contamination of the virus. Thiruvananthapuram-based Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) designed a much cheaper and faster diagnostic test kit that can confirm COVID-19 infection within two hours. This test kit is cost-effective as each test would cost the lab only Rs 1,000 and 30 samples can be tested in a single batch in a single machine. It also has 100 per cent accuracy. This test kit was developed at the right time as India was seeking to ramp up its testing for Coronavirus across the country.
Meanwhile, a Dual Chamber was created by Professor Manindra Aggarwal of IIT-Kanpur to eliminate Coronavirus hidden in clothes. The device is a chemical-free machine requiring no manual supervision. The entire setup has two chambers: an atomisation chamber and the second, a thermal shock chamber. With an approximate construction cost of Rs 50,000 and time of 48 hours, this device has now become common in malls and public spaces.
Indian Army Chips In
If it’s the frontline, then the Indian Army is already there. In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian Army, specifically the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers, designed a healthcare trolley to facilitate minimal interaction while delivering supplies essentials to frontline healthcare staff. The trolley comes equipped with a washbasin and dustbin while also providing storage space for supplies in hospitals and isolation wards.
Mission for Atma Nirbhar Bharat
In India, there used to be just six to seven ventilator manufacturers till Coronavirus breakout. A majority of them imported, costing between Rs 15 lakh and Rs 16 lakh. In comparison to this, the ventilators that are being made in India cost between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 4.5 lakh.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19 there were only 47,000 ventilators available in public and private hospitals in India. Fortunately, the PM CARES Fund, in one stroke, made 50,000 ventilators available for the public.
According to the Health Ministry, till the end of the year, 36,433 ‘Make in India’ ventilators have been supplied to all the public health facilities in the country. The average cost of these ventilators now ranges between Rs 2 and10 lakh as the domestic industry took up manufacturing of the equipment.
India, which was not manufacturing even a single Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kit, has now achieved an almost unrealistic goal of producing around 100 million PPEs and 200 million N-95 masks domestically during the ongoing pandemic. Even though the health crisis necessitated the thrust on PPE manufacturing, the success of PPE has opened doors for indigenous manufacturers in other industries as well. This has ensured five lakh direct jobs.
Made in India: 150,000 doses of Covishield vaccines,
dispatched from India, reached Bhutan on January 20, 2021
Beating all odds, India developed an indigenous network of PPE fabric and garment manufacturers in just 60 days. By mid-May, India could manufacture 4.5 lakh pieces of body coveralls and 2.5 lakh N-95 masks per day. India also began exporting PPEs to the United States, the United Kingdom, Senegal, Slovenia, and UAE.
According to data revealed by the government, In the case of PPE kits, India has now become the world’s second-largest manufacturer from a miniscule domestic production capacity in March. There is a production capacity of more than 10 lakh PPE coveralls per day and it is also being exported to several countries.
There are already nearly 1,700 indigenous manufacturers and suppliers registered on the government e-marketplace, with dozens already certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards. Nearly 1.7 crore lakh PPE kits have been distributed free of charge to States, Union Territories and Central institutions.
Body disinfection chamber designed by DRDO
Earlier, there were only three suppliers of N-95 masks with a production capacity of less than one lakh masks per day. Now, more than 3,000 manufacturers and suppliers, including 1,509 BIS-certified ones, of N-95 masks are already registered on the government portal and the domestic production capacity has risen to more than eight lakh per day. These are also being exported to other countries in large quantities. More than four crore N-95 masks have so far been distributed free of charge to various States, Union Territories and Central institutions.
From Ram Setu to Aarogya Setu
From Ram Setu to Aarogya Setu, India has been an exemplar in leading life through creating synergies of technology with society. This can be held as India’s fundamental philosophy that is based on Ekatma, the integral unity of Vyashti, Samasthi, Shrishti, and Parameshti. Therefore, all the cumulative knowledge, application, and development of technology helped create equilibrium between man and society and further until the extent of cosmos. The government launched the Aarogya Setu contact tracking app in April to alert users when they come in close contact with a COVID-19 infected person. The app also makes users aware if they have chances to get infected with the virus.
Ayurveda, the Effective Therapy
A clinical study of an Ayurveda regimen as an add-on in Covid-19 patients by four experts—Pankaj Wanjarkhedkar and Girish Sarade of Department of Ayurveda; Integrative Medicine, Bharat Purandare of Department of Infectious Diseases and Dhananjay Kelkar of Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital; Research Centre–proved that Ayurveda therapy is effective in enhancing immunity in COVID-19 patients.
The study’s objective was to evaluate the additional benefits of an Ayurvedic regime in Corona positive patients based on the rate of clinical improvement. The Ayurvedic formulation was administered as an add-on to Standard of Care in patients with mild to moderate symptoms, in this perspective, open-label, comparative study.
According to the report, the study was conducted after four months of Covid-19 pandemic alert; no specific antiviral treatment/vaccine had been recommended or made available by then. The study has found that add-on Ayurveda regimen was low risk and highly cost-effective as it reduced hospital stay. No adverse effects observed in the study group stated the report.
Bharat’s Vaccine: Sarve Santu Niramayah
Just after COVID-19 surfaced, every single person on the planet has been eagerly waiting for the vaccine to be developed. And for Indians, the long wait ended on January 3 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India developed the Corona vaccine. Two vaccines for Coronavirus, Oxford University’s Covishield, which was developed by the Pune-based SII, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, received emergency approval from the country’s drug regulator on January 4.
India has also begun exporting the Covishield vaccine on January 20 to its neighbouring nations. The government has planned vaccination of 25-30 crore people by July, 2021. On January 20, India began the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to six “neighbouring and key partner countries”
And then India began its vaccination drive for frontline healthcare workers on January 16 and has inoculated 6,31,417 people in four days till January 20. Two vaccines, Covishield, manufactured by SII using the Oxford-AstraZeneca’s master seed, and Covaxin currently have emergency use approval in India.
Now, India has also begun exporting the Covishield vaccine on January 20 to its neighbouring nations. The government has planned vaccination of 25-30 crore people by July, 2021. On January 20, India began the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to six “neighbouring and key partner countries”. The delivery began with two special flights carrying the first consignments of Covishield to the Maldives and Bhutan.
As part of the vaccine diplomacy, a consignment of 1,50,000 doses reached Thimphu on January 20. Bhutan is the first country to receive the vaccine manufactured by Pune-based SII. The vaccine is part of an overall programme to build Bhutanese capacity to fight the pandemic.
Later on January 20, a consignment of 1,00,000 doses was received at the Male airport by Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid and Health Minister Ahmed Naseem. “Maldives is [among] the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s a gift from India. India has proved to be a solid friend of the Maldives. India gave us support when our students had to be evacuated from Wuhan in China,” said Abdulla Shahid.
Meanwhile, India also gifted one million doses of Covishield to Nepal and two million doses to Bangladesh.